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12th January 2021

Updates to Charity Governance Code 2020

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The Charity Governance Code sets out seven principles of good governance for charities. This year the Charity Governance Code steering group reviewed whether the Code is still relevant to charities in our ever-changing landscape.

The Code is a simple tool for charity trustee boards to ensure their governance structures are fit for purpose. In other words, that they are focused on achieving the charity’s aims, using resources effectively, complying with relevant legislation and – ultimately – continuing to serve their beneficiaries.

The Code was last updated in 2017, therefore there was a real need for it to be updated to ensure its continued relevance to the sector. In February this year a consultation was launched to review the Code, and feedback was received from over 800 organisations and individuals. With more than 85% of respondents supporting a fresh approach, the steering group spent the past few months researching and refining two of the seven principles: The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Principle and the Integrity Principle.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

The EDI principle was chosen because it sits at the heart of good governance and it has the power to create social justice. The steering group of the Code said that the new EDI principle is designed to enable charities to be much bolder in this area. Charities are being asked to consider the following four steps when approaching EDI:

  1. Think about why EDI is important for your charity and assess the current level of understanding
  2. Set out plans and targets tailored to your charity and its starting point
  3. Monitor and measure how well you’re doing
  4. Be transparent and publish the charity’s progress.


Members of the steering group for the Code said the following on the integrity principle:

“The last couple of years have taught the charity sector a lot about integrity and safeguarding, and the harm that can be caused when integrity is abused. Now more than ever is a time to make sure the Code is relevant. Integrity in charity governance is about much more than managing funds and financial assets well.  It’s also about values, ethical principles in all decision-making and creating a welcoming and supportive culture. The personal behaviour of charity trustees is paramount, and we’ve updated the Code to make this clear”.

Moving forward

Whilst it may initially seem daunting to undertake the task of considering the EDI and integrity of your charity, it is an invaluable exercise to undertake. The Charity Governance Code website provides a lot of helpful guidance, hints and advice on how to implement all seven principles into your charity.  

For more information on any of the items raised in this article please contact a member of the Charities team.